Ball of Wax 42 Songs: Ju. – El Sentido de la Vida

Madrid’s Ju. (pronounced, I assume, like the English word ‘who,’ but I could be mistaken) is the newest international addition to the Ball of Wax coterie, and I couldn’t be more pleased to have them. The band first came to my attention because they mailed me a copy of their (both visually and sonically) gorgeous CD Poco adrede nunca, which has quickly become a favorite in our household.

Ju.’s two members took this 42/The Meaning of Life challenge very seriously, and went Bushwick Book Club on it, each of them reading the book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and then generating musical rules and lyrics from it. (If only the Book Club had the budget to fly these guys in to play their Hitchhiker’s Guide show in January!) That probably sounds like a highly intellectualized process that could potentially make for awkward listening, but the piece they came up with is lush and textured, rich with sonic layers and gorgeous melodies sung in Barbara Bañuelos’s clear, unaffected voice. The lyrics are beautifully simple and evocative, but have – not surprisingly – a more poetic ring in the Spanish in which they were written (that last line, “platillo amarillo,” is so much more resonant than its translation, “yellow spaceship”). The meaning doesn’t come across if you’re not a Spanish speaker, but the words, sounds, and melody are enough to carry this piece whether you understand it all or not.

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